Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Overachieving Unschooler

We've all heard of them.
That family where the kids are passionate about something, totally consumed and fascinated by that thing, who want more and more ideas and activities and input related to that thing, and it leads them to an amazing alternative career.
There are museum visits and traveling and books and projects and internships and ideas and experiments and artwork and etc.

And it sounds glorious.
A wonderful, perfect, child-led education.
The stuff unschooling dreams are made of.
Plenty of ammunition to use to counter ANY argument anyone presents against unschooling.
Better than school.
Better than school-at-home homeschooling.
More opportunities.
More creative.
More dynamic.
More fun.

But also… the flip side.

More pressure.
More exhausting.

And somehow, many parents find that their kids "aren't at that phase yet." When will they find that all-consuming passion? When will all that learning I keep reading about HAPPEN? Shouldn't I be doing something? Shouldn't we be doing MORE? Everything I read, everything I hear, everything I see, those amazing unschoolers are out there being prodigies, geniuses, starting their own businesses, traveling the world…

Here's the thing.

Most unschoolers are pretty much just people.
Interesting people, for sure.

But that image of all that running around, diving into every interest, finding all those resources, living that exciting life, etc- for the most part, that is a fantasy.

Sure, bits and pieces of it happen, a lot.
But the whole picture, all the time?
Not so much.

It IS, however, the parts that tend to get written about, because they ARE very interesting.

I think it provides a very skewed image of unschooling.
And I think it creates a LOT of pressure on people who are new to unschooling. A lot of unmet expectations. A lot of discomfort, when what they think is supposed to happen, doesn't happen.

Here's my advice:

Read about what other people are doing if you find it interesting.
Consider what, IF ANYTHING, applies to your own family's needs.

But instead of setting yourself up for unmet expectations, look at your actual kids, what they actually like and want to do, and do that.

It MIGHT lead to a deep, passionate interest.
And it might not.
Either way is okay.

It isn't some sort of weird unschooling competition.
You aren't competing with other unschoolers, and you aren't competing with schools, either.
What other people do only matters as much as your kids find it interesting or useful.

Relax, and enjoy being with your kids. Provide whatever opportunities and resources make sense IN YOUR FAMILY, and in your situation, because it's what makes your family happy- not because you think you have to keep up with the unschooling Joneses.

It can be hard to let go of the fantasy of the "perfect unschooling life."

But believe me, the REAL unschooling life, your kids' lives, are MUCH more interesting and rewarding, even if they seem pretty laid back in comparison.

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